Manor Cottages blog

The Best Museums & Galleries in and around the Oxfordshire Cotswolds

The Ashmolean, Oxford The Ashmolean, Oxford

Sitting in your Cotswold cottage wondering what to do? How about a cultural trip to some of the museums that are within easy reach? The areas around Burford, Woodstock and Witney (often described as the ‘Oxfordshire Cotswolds’) are blessed with a cracking range of diverse museums and galleries that are likely to appeal to a visitor looking for cultural ideas! Although this particular area of the Cotswolds has easy access to the area in and around Oxford, we would certainly recommend a day trip to take in these suggestions below, even if you are travelling from your holiday property deeper in the countryside.

There are galleries that offer fine examples of modern art from local and international artists, science aficionados can check out museums that tell the story of the history of science, natural history and exhibit ethnographic objects. And there’s even a museums for those wanting to know more about Oxford’s history. But let’s start off with Oxfordshire’s best-known museum, the world renowned Ashmolean.

The Ashmolean - Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2PH

The Ashmolean has recently undergone a major refurbishment, which allows a much greater more display area. It is this increased space that allows exhibits to be showcased in a different way. Now, visitors will be able to track each object’s story as a journey through time and continents. This is designed to show guests how civilisations developed as part of an integrated and cultured world.

The museum has also themed the galleries to show the development of connections between objects and activities that are common to different cultures, specifically, activities such as money, reading and writing, and the representation of the human image. The museum has dedicated entire floors of the galleries and arranged them in chronological order, making it easier for the visitor to map the development of the ancient and modern world. As such, this makes the Ashmolean a wonderful place for school trips.

The Museum of Oxford - St Aldate's, Oxford OX1 1BX -

From the international to the local now, with the Museum of Oxford, this museum is separated into two museum galleries, both located in the Town Hall. They each tell the fascinating story of Oxford; one concentrates on Victorian times through the office of Victorian City Engineer William White. You can look through his office drawers and check out the maps he was working on at the time, look at the artefacts and see exactly how Oxford looked when settlers first came to Oxford.

Or fast forward to the present day and take the opportunity of a virtual high-speed bike ride through the centre of Oxford. The bike ride allows you to travel to every aspect of the city, north, east, south and west, visiting the city's highlights. You can check out the famous landmarks of Oxford, or get to see the hidden gems this city has to offer that you might not know existed. There are also tours of the Town Hall that are organised and led by volunteer guides.

Modern Art Oxford - 30 Pembroke St, Oxford OX1 1BP -

The Modern Art Museum at Oxford is a free museum that is dedicated to showcasing the best of modern and contemporary works of visual art. Boasting national and international acclaim, you can be sure to see the very best of up and coming artists, from group exhibitions to solo presentations. The museum is funded mostly by the Arts Council England, and as such holds varied free events including workshops and art based activities for budding artists. There is a café on the premises and a gift shop nearby, and you can also take part in the events programme which provides stimulating talks and discussions, and includes, amongst others, contemporary music and film nights.

Pitt Rivers Museum - S Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3PP -

If you happen to have inquisitive children who love the extraordinary and the wonderfully weird, then the Pitt Rivers Museum holds the most bizarre and curious treasures they are ever likely to see. From real shrunken human heads, a witch in a bottle and currency crafted from beetle’s legs, this museum was founded in 1884 by Augustus Pitt Rivers, a kind of Indiana Jones of our times.

He was a Victorian man with a military background who was fascinated by how different cultures solved everyday problems. Whilst he conducted his research he also began collecting artefacts, donating some 22,000 items to the museum. There are now over 500,000 items thanks to donations from missionaries, scholars and travellers. The items are arranged typologically, that is they are displayed according to how they were used, rather than their age or origin. This is to show the progression in evolution of human culture and design. The Pitt Rivers encourages visits from children and won The Guardian’s Family Friendly Museum award in 2005.

The Museum of the History of Science - Broad St, Oxford OX1 3AZ -

Much like the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Museum of the History of Science also houses old artefacts of a scientific nature, but these are all early scientific instruments that cover most aspects of science. In the collections there are around 20,000 objects that range from old relics to the early twentieth century, and cover old sundials, quadrants, optical instruments and astrolabes (used for locating the positions of the planets).

The more important objects include early microscopes, telescopes and cameras, instruments for mathematical calculations such as those used for drawing, surveying, astronomy and navigation and apparatus associated with chemistry, natural philosophy and medicine. Science buffs will also want to know that the museum holds a wonderfully complete reference library for all these scientific objects and apparatus, including old manuscripts, pamphlets, prints and early photographic material.

Oxfordshire Self-Catering Holiday Cottages

Planning a cultural trip to the Cotswolds? Manor Cottages are a locally based, family business who specialise in Holiday Cottages and Self Catering Accommodation across the Cotswold area. With over 270 holiday properties, we are the largest supplier across the region and generated over 30,000 visitors to the Cotswolds in 2013.

For more information, contact us by calling 01993 824 252. You can view our full range of properties in the Cotswolds by browsing our website.

Related articles

View Wish List
Recently Viewed